Julian Assange’s High Court fight against extradition
Julian Assange’s High Court fight against extradition
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Latest: Feb. 16, 2021
Important updates to Julian Assange's extradition case
It is a busy time for the lawyers working on my partner Julian Assange’s extradition case. Last Friday was the deadline for the US government to finalise its application to the High Court, aski…Read more
Today, the next stage of the legal battle to free my partner Julian Assange begins.
Two days before the inauguration of the new President, the Trump administration appealed a ruling the UK Magistrates Court made on 4 January. The UK judge had decided to block the US request for Julian's extradition, on medical grounds. The US government is now seeking to overturn that decision on appeal.
Although the District Judge refused the extradition she nevertheless denied Julian bail. He is still being held in Belmarsh Prison, as an unconvicted prisoner, in appalling conditions. He has been there for almost two years.
Because of the Covid lockdown he is not allowed to receive any visitors and has no direct access to his lawyers.
Julian's lawyers have already started working on their reply to the US Government and they are preparing to defend Julian's victory in the High Court. If they win again, he will be free.
Why are we raising funds?
Undertaking the next step in the legal process and defending Julian in the High Court will be expensive, even though Julian’s legal team continues to work for low remuneration and have contributed much of their time pro bono. We cannot do it alone and we need your support.
The significance of Julian's case
It was the Trump administration who charged Julian under the Espionage Act for exposing war crimes and human rights abuses in 2010 and 2011.
The decision to indict him was a political act motivated by malice. Julian exposed the killing of unarmed civilians and the torture of innocent people. For that the people who are driving this want to bury Julian in the deepest, darkest corner of the US prison system for the rest of his life. Julian faces a potential sentence of 175 years.
Press freedom groups consider the indictment against Julian the single gravest threat to press freedom in the US, the UK and Europe, because of its extraterritorial nature. It is the first ever indictment of a publisher under the US Espionage Act.
If Julian is extradited he will be put on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, where he stands no chance of a fair trial. It is where US intelligence agencies are headquartered. The court complex is 15 miles from CIA headquarters. The state is populated by employees of the very sector whose abuses and crimes Julian exposed.
The Espionage Act prevents Julian from arguing why he published what he published, what he exposed, and the fact it didn't result in any physical harm.
How can you help?
Please join me in this epic fight for justice, for freedom of expression and for the rights of journalists and publishers to hold Governments to account without being imprisoned and potentially losing their life. Any donation, no matter how small, will make a huge difference.
On behalf of Julian and our family, I want to thank you for standing with us and helping to raise money for this important legal battle. It is a fight for our family, to give our sons Max, 2, and Gabriel, 3, the right to grow up with their father. It is also a fight for truth and justice, and a fight for everyone’s right to live in a free society.
Please do share the link to this page with anyone who may want to help.
I will be posting updates here so that you can follow the developments.
Thank you for your support,
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Feb. 16, 2021
Important updates to Julian Assange's extradition case
It is a busy time for the lawyers working on my partner Julian Assange’s extradition case. Last Friday was the deadline for the US government to finalise its application to the High Court, asking for permission to appeal last month’s decision. Earlier in the week, a coalition of dozens of major US press freedom groups had called on the Biden Administration to drop the charges against Julian.
The next step in the legal case is that Julian’s legal team will respond to the US grounds for appeal. Julian's lawyers are hard at work. Julian's team has asked the High Court to give them more time to consider whether to lodge a cross appeal in order to challenge parts of the ruling where the magistrate did not side with Julian and the press freedom arguments. A cross appeal would provide an opportunity to clear Julian’s name properly.
On January 4, a UK magistrates court ruled that it was unsafe to extradite Julian because to do so would likely result in his death. The magistrate took into account extensive medical evidence and blocked the extradition on grounds that to extradite him would be so oppressive as to be contrary to s.91 of the Extradition Act. Although Julian won at the Magistrates Court, the magistrate did not side with him on the wider public interest arguments.
We wanted a UK court to properly quash the extradition and refute the other grounds too. We wanted a finding that the extradition is an attempt to criminalise journalism, not just in the US but in the UK and the rest of the world as well; and that the decision to indict Julian was a political act, a violation of the treaty, a violation of his human rights and an abuse of process.
Julian’s extradition team is considering all these issues, and whether they can be cross-appealed. The Court will set the deadline for the defence to submit its response, and once it has all the arguments before it, the High Court will decide whether it wishes to grant permission for the appeal to be heard.
Meanwhile, Julian – who is an unconvicted innocent man – remains on remand in the high security Belmarsh Prison where he has been for over 500 days. He should be home with his kids, but he was refused bail. There are many terrible things about Belmarsh, not least how cold it has been over the last couple of weeks and that he is isolated in a cell practically all day long.
However, the most pressing problem for Julian is that conditions in detention continue to obstruct his ability to prepare his legal case, a case on which his life depends. He is denied proper access to his lawyers--his legal team is unable to do in-person visits because of Covid, and there are months of waiting lists for video conferencing. There are delays in legal papers reaching him and the laptop issued by UK authorities for the court case is read-only, it has no text editing programs, and the keys are glued down to prevent him from typing. This makes it all but impossible for him to provide adequate feedback to his team with regards to the materials required for the appeal.
The campaign is now at its most critical point. We cannot afford to have the Magistrate Court's ruling reversed on appeal.
The Biden Administration will soon appoint its new Attorney General and this will be an important moment to raise the pressure on the Biden Administration to live up to its commitments to defend press freedom and drop the charges against Julian. The Obama administration, of which Biden was Vice President, decided not to pursue charges against Julian because it recognised that to do so would be a wider attack on press freedom.
It was the Trump administration which charged him and pursued the extradition as part of its war against journalism.
Do whatever you can, however you can to help raise awareness about Julian's case in the coming weeks and months, until Julian's freedom is secured. Go to the dontextraditeassange.com campaign site for resources and ideas.
Please keep sharing this fundraising appeal with friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who might be able to donate. This is a David and Goliath battle, and the US government has unlimited resources. Keep explaining why Julian is guilty of nothing other than exposing truths about US war crimes and human rights abuses. An attack on him is an attack on a free press.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Feb. 5, 2021
£50,000 raised for Julian Assange's appeal...but the fight continues
Our High Court appeal fund has reached £50,000, thanks to your generous support towards Julian’s new legal fight.
Over 1000 people have pledged to help defend Julian against the appeal of the extradition hearing decision.
The High Court appeal was lodged by the US government in the final days of the Trump administration. Julian and I are enormously grateful and heartened by the amazing support. More and more people understand what is at stake and the need for Julian to be free, and we need that to continue until Julian comes home.
On January 4 a UK Magistrates Court issued a ruling blocking the US government's request to extradite Julian. The UK magistrate ruled that extraditing him would be unsafe. The magistrate accepted that the evidence showed a high likelihood that Julian would die if the UK decided to extradite him. However, the US is now seeking to overturn that decision on appeal.
Although Julian won, he was refused bail, so he continues to be held as an unconvinced ‘remand’ prisoner in Belmarsh high security prison, where he has been for 22 months. He's been there for longer than many violent convicts. He faces difficult conditions, isolated for most of the day, which are compounded by Covid. In his block there were 97 inmates who had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of December.
Julian should be warm, at home with me and his two sons. Max just turned two and we were forced to spend yet another birthday apart. Julian is really suffering with the cold weather. Even though winter clothes were sent to him in early October, Julian has still not received them. When he goes outside in the exercise yard he is having to layer up his existing clothes, which are not warm enough.
Many people are asking the Biden Administration to distance itself from the Trump-era prosecution of Julian, and to drop the charges entirely. Doing so would be in keeping with President Obama’s position that the US should not prosecute Julian because the case is the biggest single threat against press freedom. If the Biden Administration decides to drop the case, Julian could be free within weeks. But if it keeps the case going, it could take years.
The UK courts could decide to reverse the decision blocking the extradition on appeal, and if that happens, Julian will most likely never come home and our children will lose their father forever.
Julian’s lawyers must continue to prepare for all eventualities. Even though they are working for minimal rates, and in many cases pro bono, it is an expensive process and they carry enormous responsibility on their shoulders.
The next steps in the extradition case are as follows:
- The US will submit its final appeal grounds by February 12. If the High Court is not satisfied that the US grounds for appeal are sound, Julian will be able to come home. If, on the other hand, the High Court agrees to hear the appeal, then that hearing is expected to take place in a few months.
- If the High Court appeal goes ahead, the losing party could then appeal to the Supreme Court and/or the European Court of Human Rights. That could take several years.
In the meantime we must stay strong and grow the campaign for Julian’s freedom in every way we can.
Julian's life is at stake. That in itself is a terrifying and urgent reality. He should be free because his incarceration is a grave injustice to Julian and to our family.
This case is about an innocent man but it is also about our fundamental values. Julian is being punished for doing the right thing. Any prosecution of Julian – who exposed war crimes and human rights abuse– undermines press freedom in a way that affects every single person. The attempt to prosecute him criminalises public interest journalism.
Thank you again for continuing to be involved and engaged. Please share the CrowdJustice appeal with anyone who might be able to help.
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